There are many options for cookware on the market. There are copper, cast iron, aluminum, and other lesser-known options.
While each type of pan has its pros and cons, one of the most common options that restaurants go with is aluminum pans.
Aluminum pans tend to heat up faster than other options, and they’re easy to clean and affordable.
If you were to walk into the kitchen at most restaurants, you’d see the chefs using aluminum pans.
There are several reasons why they choose this option over others.
Whether you’re thinking about opening a restaurant or are just curious about what professional chefs in the industry are using, we’re here to help.
Let’s take a closer look at every aspect that makes aluminum pans a popular option for restaurants and professional chefs.
Aluminum Pans Are Affordable
When looking for the right pan for a kitchen, one of the most important things to consider is cost. Even when a restaurant is bringing in a lot of revenue, being cost-effective is critical.
Multiple chefs in a kitchen will often use pans from the beginning of their shift to the end. They are subject to strenuous wear and tear from prolonged use and rapid movement.
Restaurants will need to replace cookware often to keep up with the many dishes they will be cooking throughout the year.
They need a reliable pan within their budget that can still perform to their standards.
In terms of raw material, aluminum is far cheaper than most other elements used for pans. It is the third most abundant element, comprising some 8% of the Earth’s crust.
Its abundance makes it the most easily accessible option when it comes to cookware. Aluminum is also 3.27 times less dense than copper and roughly one-third the cost.
Aluminum is easier to shape than other materials, which affects the cost because it takes less time to create.
It is melted down using a melting furnace and then poured into casts. The nonstick coating is applied to the cookware and cured in an industrial oven or furnace, unlike copper and cast iron, which takes much longer.
Since it is cheaper to create, there are many aluminum pans to choose from.
On the market, you may find high-scale, heavy-duty aluminum pans along with low-scale pure aluminum pans.
Many pans even have mixed metals, such as aluminum core stainless steel. This combines the higher durability of stainless steel and the higher conductivity of aluminum.
Also read: What is Anodized Aluminum Pan?
There’s No Need for Seasoning in Aluminum Pans
If you’ve ever worked with cast iron before, you’ve heard of seasoning the pan. Even if you’ve never worked with one, you’ve probably heard about the seasoning process.
Pan seasoning is when you bake a thin layer of fat onto the pan to protect the metal. This process is repeated several times and can take up to three hours.
Seasoning makes it easier to cook with pans made of materials like cast iron, which have more difficulty cooking delicate foods.
Aluminum pans don’t need any preparation processes, so chefs can choose them to save time and effort.
When they serve dozens of people per day, saving time and getting customers their food as fast as possible is important for business.
Also read: How to Season an Aluminum Pan
Aluminum Pans are Lightweight
A chef’s duties are filled with various repetitive motions throughout the day. Pans with lighter weight can cause less harm to the chefs in the long run.
Cooking when a chef’s wrist or hand is hurting isn’t going to be pleasant and can cause long-term injuries.
Using heftier pans can also increase cooking time, while lighter pans are beneficial to getting dishes onto the table quickly.
Lighter pans mean less material that needs to heat up, in turn getting food prepared faster.
An aluminum pan has an average weight of 2.5 pounds. It is about half the weight of copper and one-third the weight of stainless steel.
Weight also becomes essential in standard cooking techniques that require tossing the pan. Even if a chef can easily toss food in a copper or cast iron pan, doing it all day can cause strain.
For example, if a restaurant has sautéd food on the menu, it’s beneficial to avoid fatigue with the lighter aluminum pan.
They Have a High Heat Conductivity
High conductivity is very useful to chefs because the pan will heat up quickly. Chefs have to get food out in a timely manner, and they don’t want to have to wait a long time for a pan to heat up.
When they have to wait a long time, customers can get cranky, wondering where their food is. The aluminum alloy used in cooking pans has a constant thermal conductivity rating throughout the 70-450º F range.
One pound of aluminum has the electrical current-carrying capacity of two pounds of copper. It heats sixteen times faster than stainless steel.
In addition to heating quickly, aluminum also heats up more evenly.
This is important to ensure the pan doesn’t have hot spots, which will help when cooking delicate foods such as eggs and fish.
Just as it heats up fast, it also cools down quickly. A quick cool-down time is excellent when cooking a dish that requires temperature changes.
Or when you want to wash the dish after preparation safely.
They’re Resistance to Rust
Rust can be a considerable issue that requires time and energy to prevent and treat. It can cause health complications if ingested, especially if someone is sensitive to rust.
It can also affect the taste of the food. Chefs don’t want to worry about rust contaminating their food or wasting money on expensive cleaners.
Rusting pans means buying them more frequently, too.
Although rust can be removed, the process is generally very time-consuming. As many pans are prone to erosion, it makes sense for restaurants to choose a pan that has a lower chance of rusting.
Aluminum doesn’t rust due to a natural thin protective oxide layer that discourages corrosion.
When water molecules come in contact with aluminum oxide, the aluminum and oxygen atoms on the surface move apart.
This means that restaurant chefs can use aluminum pans frequently and clean them without worrying about them rusting too fast.
While they may over time, it’ll take longer than other pans.
They’re Scratch Resistant
Restaurants need cookware that can take a beating.
Pots and pans will get scratched, broken, and dent over time. Pans in restaurants are used much more often than in a traditional household.
Aluminum pans are known for getting dents or scratches easily, but not all aluminum pans. Restaurants opt for anodized aluminum pans since they’re scratch resistant and can take a beating.
Anodized aluminum is a common choice that makes the aluminum more durable and protects it even further from rust. Plus, anodized aluminum pans are very easy to clean like traditional aluminum pans.
Manufacturers use anodization to thicken the oxide layer of aluminum, making it more resistant to scratches.
The aluminum is placed in an acidic bath and exposed to an electrical current that erodes the metal and creates a thick ceramic layer on the surface.
They’re Easy to Clean
As we all know, restaurants serve a lot of food almost every day. When you’re cooking a lot of food, you’ll end up with a lot of dishes to wash.
The easier the pans are to wash, the smoother things will run.
Since aluminum pans usually have either a nonstick surface or go through adonization, they are much easier to clean than other pans since food doesn’t stick.
Some pans require elbow grease with strenuous scrubbing to remove stubborn foods, while you can clean aluminum pans simply with dish soap, hot water, and a soft sponge.
Dishwashers in restaurants appreciate the aluminum pans, too, since it makes their jobs ten times easier. When the entire kitchen staff is happy, things run smoothly.
Also read: How to Clean Oxidized Aluminum Pans (4 Easy Ways)
They Distribute Heat Well
If you ask anyone who cooks, they’ll tell you that copper pots and pans distribute heat the best out of other materials.
Unfortunately, copper pans can be pretty expensive, so the next best option is aluminum if you want something that distributes heat well.
Aluminum pans distribute heat very well, which is vital for cooking in any capacity, especially chefs in restaurants when they’re serving dozens of people per day.
When you’re cooking for many people, making the same dishes daily, ensuring that each one comes out the same is important for business.
That’s why restaurant chefs can rely on aluminum pans for even heating. They don’t have to worry about one portion coming out colder or hotter than another.
There are several great cookware options for people to use in the kitchen. All of them are beneficial and great for different reasons.
Although there are many options for kitchen cookware, it makes sense that aluminum is one of the most common in restaurant kitchens.
Its high conductivity, low cost, lighter weight, and ease of use meet all of the standards a chef looks for in the restaurant industry.
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